Nobody puts Baby in a corner

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I got rather giddy when a photo of our bedroom appeared on the Papermash Facebook page the other day. This corner of the room technically belong to the Tiny Overlord, who sleeps in the co-sleeping crib.

I had been trying to think of ways to add a bit of personality to his part of the room without making it too ‘babyfied’. Because, let’s face it, we don’t care too much for traditional baby decor and, at 4 months old, neither does he. Heavily inspired by the interior design ideas of Hannah and Vicky, I found the wonderful star mobile over at Papermash. I think it is meant to be a Christmas decoration, but it’s far far too beautiful for just one month a year. Our new name ‘wall art’ is made from a make your own banner kit (also from Papermash) and some fabulous vintage wallpaper that I had set my heart on decorating our hallway with, but alas there wasn’t enough. I’m glad I’ve found a way for it to be on show.

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You can find more corners, not all for Baby, around our home here.

This post isn’t sponsored, we’ve just got an awful lot of love for Papermash.

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A Mini Fashion Protest: Reading

Cast your minds way back to last Autumn, to a London Fashion Week held in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh and the Craftivist Collective and War On Want’s highly inspiring Mini Fashion Protest campaign.

Heavily pregnant and armed with my hand stitched mini protest banners, I headed to Reading’s bustling Oracle shopping centre, in the hope that my tiny embroidered words might make someone think twice about where the clothes they are buying might be coming from and who might be making them.

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This banner reads “Please show respect to the women who make your clothes. Let’s pay a living wage to all garment workers“.

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Exploitation: It’s not okay here, it’s not okay anywhere” This one was stitched not only in solidarity for those exploited abroad, but also in solidarity for many British retail workers who are paid minimum wage (not a ‘living’ wage) and have unfair working contracts.

One thing I have learnt about display mini protest banners is that it is hard to feel inconspicuous when putting them up there. My heart always pounds, my hands feel a little clammy. Add to the mix being eight and a half months pregnant (and unwisely wearing bright pink and red stripes) and these feelings double. Triple even.

But I really believed in this campaign and believe in conscious consumption, safe working conditions, fair wages, human rights and thinking about the environmental impacts of our consumer choices and we’ve not even touched on the emotive issues around child labour yet.

Maybe someone saw my stitched words by the Oracle riverside and briefly thought about some of those issues? Someone definitely saw them, as nearly five months later the cable ties holding my ‘exploitation’ banner to the bridge are still there.

Oh Christmas Tree

Every year I look towards Christmas with the best of homemade intentions. The level of consumption we are encouraged to undertake at Christmas makes me extremely uncomfortable. For Christmas 2012 I managed to make (nearly) everyone’s Christmas present. But 2013 a combination of the crazy weather, nothing growing in our garden as it should and having a baby (had I mentioned that we’ve had a baby? Baby, baby, baby…) meant I managed to rustle up a mere 4 jars of jam and chutney. So I bought everyone books and framed photos of a very smiley Tiny Overlord in fairtrade photo frames instead.

But I felt a little peeved that my gifts, whilst lovingly chosen from the best shop in Reading, lacked the homemade touch. So I’ve started a new tradition of at least making people a handmade decoration each year. Hopefully this is something the Tiny Overlord and I can do together in the future. But this year, with him only being 2 months old, I went it alone and made a selection of hangable Christmas trees from my button stash and felt.

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I must confess that my birth-and-baby-addled brain didn’t entirely come up with the design on my own, and I took more than a small amount of inspiration from these decorations I’ve had pinned forever by MissyMaddoxDesigns. But I was mightily pleased with the result. I wrapped the books up in brown paper and string (saved from our vegetable boxes – never knowingly overlook an opportunity to recycle) and a button tree on each one was the finishing touch. Now all I need to do is to start scouring Pinterest for this year’s decoration inspiration.

Two Weddings

2013 was a big year, not only for the cooking and birth of the Tiny Overlord. But it also saw two of my ‘little’ brothers get married. As with any special occasion, I decided to mark these wonderful events with a little bit of cross stitch:

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Both cross stitched were based on designs I had found online, but were customised for each of the happy couples. The inspiration for each design came from the proposals – Simon proposed to Amy in the sea and Alex proposed to Jenny over dinner with a card made from Scrabble tiles.

I’m really rather pleased with both of them. Now I just need to think of something to stitch for 2013’s new arrivals…

Adventures in Visible Mending

Despite not being able to do them up over my now rather epic bump, the sudden change in temperature has found me sorting out all things snug and woolen. I have an absolute weakness for a vintage cardigan. The closer to something my Granddad would have worn, the better, in my opinion. But a love for snuggly old man knitwear does have its problems in the maintenance department, all things vintage and well loved are prone to wear and tear.

In the spirit of the Making Do Project, I’ve been investigating beautiful ways to patch and repair my beloved cardigan collection, to increase their lifespan, and, thanks to Crafty Magazine, I discovered Tom of Holland and the Visible Mending Programme. Tom describes the programme on his blog;

“The Visible Mending Programme seeks to highlight that the art and craftsmanship of clothes repair is particularly relevant in a world where more and more people voice their dissatisfaction with fashion’s throwaway culture. By exploring the story behind garment and repair, the Programme attempts to reinforce the relationship between the wearer and garment,  leading to people wearing their existing clothes for longer, with the beautiful darn worn as a badge of honour…”

And darns can be really beautiful (please click on the pictures to view the original sources)…

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Tom of Holland’s ‘Amazing Jumper’

Prick Your Finger's Darned Shetland Jumper

Prick Your Finger’s Darned Shetland Jumper

This cardigan, also darned by Tom of Holland, ticks all my 'Granddad chic' boxes

This cardigan, also darned by Tom of Holland, ticks all my ‘Granddad chic’ boxes

Suitably inspired and armed with a darning mushroom, I thought I’d give visible mending a go on a 1980s collared cardigan I’d bought discounted from Etsy seller due to a hole in the front..

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The mend is next between the buttons and the bottom of the pocket on the right hand side

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And a closer look…

I wasn’t confident enough in my fledgling darning abilities to use the kind of high contrasting colour used by Tom of Holland or Prick Your Finger, the darn itself is still a little rough and ready and I think my technique will improve with practice. But I am really rather proud of it, I have felt a stronger connection with my clothes through darning and I am delighted to give this cardie a second lease of life.

Now, what can I mend next…?

Sharing Ink

Sometimes the intention and meaning behind a guerrilla art project makes me feel slightly giddy. I discovered this wonderful project called Sharing Ink by Australian artist Sayraphim Lothian through the Craftivist Collective’s Facebook group.

Sayraphim has made and left 30 blank journals, each with a message inscribed in front page, around Melbourne for people to find. This really rather beautiful film tells the story…

Sharing Ink from The Public Studio on Vimeo.

The Sharing Ink appeals to me on so many levels. Firstly I love Sayaphim’s views on public art, on the difference in interaction and ownership between art in a public place and art in a gallery. The project also makes me think about own relationship with books, my increasing reliance on computers, e-readers and gadgets and how books provide something tangible and physical that isn’t replicated by modern technology. I also love that this project is asking people to challenge their perceptions of people they don’t know, challenging society’s preconception that all ‘strangers’ should be feared. That someone you don’t know could actually make your day better…

You can read more about Sharing Ink on this blog or on the Facebook page, which also include the stories from people that have found some of the journals. I really really love this project.

101 Uses of a Vintage Sheet (Part 1 of a very occasional series)

Most people seem to have a Marmite relationship with 1970s decor. For some the bright colours and bold prints are an instant turn off. But for me, like a jar of the infamous spread, I love it – the bigger, the brighter, the bolder, the better. So when I spy 1970s vintage sheets in charity shops, I snap them up without a moment’s hesitation. They are probably the cheapest way to get some genuine vintage fabric in your life and are available to be picked up for almost pennies. I really love using bits of my stash to add colour to our home.
Homemade Patchwork Pillowcases

Last week I decided we needed something on our bed, that would compliment the rather joyous patchwork curtains that reside in our bedroom and managed to rustle up these pillowcases in a few hours on the sewing machine. The patches are the same size (postcard sized) that I used on the curtains and I think they look rather good together

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Next up was a bit of upcycling I did for the impending arrival of the Tiny Overlord.

Upcycled Fruit Crate

I found this fruit crate dumped outside our local greengrocers and after a bit of a sand, prime and paint (with the addition of a little bit of decoupage) I’ve lined the inside with a piece of vintage sheet. I’m not sure what is going to go in it yet, but I am reassured that babies come with plenty of paraphernalia that might keep me busy.

But sheets don’t just have to be homeware.

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I also used an offcut to make this birthday card for a friend’s daughter. The ribbon and charm were repurposed from the packaging of an Etsy purchase. She’s pretty cute isn’t she?

So what do you do with your vintage sheets? From bedding to beyond! I’d love to know (and see, please leave a link!)